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Bitcoin to Be Studied by the Australian Treasury

In an effort to understand and explore the possibilities presented by the innovation of bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology, the Australian Federal Treasury will team up with Data61, a research unit of the Commonwealth to study bitcoin transactions in the bitcoin economy.

Data61, a research unit of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) will join the Australian Federal Treasury and an undisclosed number of other government agencies in a nine-month study to understand the bitcoin blockchain.

In a media release, CSIRO asserts that while the adoption of distributed ledger technology was yet to occur even in the financial services industry, the potential of the innovation could mean widespread deployment, across multiple sectors in the future.

The study will entail focusing on any potential benefits and increased efficiency gained in productivity for the Australian economy, with the application of blockchain technology. Proof-of-concept projects will be also evaluated by Data61 researchers along with industry experts and other areas of government.

The review will also seek to develop and provide practical use cases for blockchain technology in the real world. Specifically, the aim is to facilitate pilot programs wherein distributed ledger solutions could enrich government services and the private sector.

Stefan Hajkowicz, a member of the Data61 Foresighting Team stated:

Blockchain is certainly an example of a technology that has the potential to disrupt or change the way not only financial services transactions are carried out, but also those across virtually any other sector, including government.

Describing blockchain technology as an innovation that “utilizes powerful algorithms”, CSIRO underlined the decentralized, tamper-resistant nature of a distributed or shared ledger.

With an aim to improve productivity and the services of both government and industry, Data61 CEO Adria nTurner added:

This study will provide the information we need to properly consider both the opportunities and the challenges posed by blockchain.

Australia – Now a Fintech Destination

It was only 2015 when there were notable instances wherein Bitcoin exchanges and businesses were denied fundamental banking privileges by banks in Australia. This led to the many businesses in society turning their back on bitcoin. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a regulator, conducted an investigation into banks closing bitcoin companies’ accounts toward the end of 2015.

The conclusion of the investigation in February this year saw Australian banks cleared of colluding to deny banking services. Such incidents added fire to what was seen as a notably unfriendly ecosystem to bitcoin and virtual currencies.

However, recent inroads made into understanding and fostering both bitcoin, virtual currencies blockchain endeavors have seen Australian authorities take a friendlier stance to the cryptocurrency and its technology.

The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) was the first international stock exchange to pilot an ongoing trial of blockchain technology used in tandem with its existing legacy system as a post-trade clearing solution. In March 2016, the Australian Government announced that it was “committed” to removing the double taxation levied on bitcoin via the goods and services tax (GST).

Since then, the government has followed up with proposals, published this month, to ensure that bitcoin and other virtual currencies do get that tax cut which could, in essence, see bitcoin being treated like any other currency.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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